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13 Jun, 2020 13:19

Spider-Gret? Newly discovered Madagascar arachnid named after teen climate activist

Spider-Gret? Newly discovered Madagascar arachnid named after teen climate activist

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg now has an entire genus of spider and a newly discovered species belonging to it, named after her. The arachnids are unusual in that they don’t spin webs to catch their prey.

The naming honor comes courtesy of veteran German arachnologist Peter Jager, who described the discovery in in the scientific journal Zootaxa.

The new species, Thunberga greta, was found in Madagascar. In his paper, Jager explains that that the spider belongs to a new genus of the family Sparassidae, distinct from its cousins thanks to the arrangement of eyes and spots on its cephalothorax.

The Greta spider is related to four previously known species in the new genus. Jager suggested reclassifying them and moving them from the Heteropodinae genus into the new group.

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The arachnids belong to the family of huntsman spider, known for their speed and feeding habits. They shun web ambushes in favor of active hunting or foraging for food.

Jager told AFP that in naming the new discovery after Thunberg, he intended to draw public attention to the threat posed to Madagascar spiders from climate change.

The scientist has discovered and named several new spider species over two decades of research.

Heteropoda davidbowie, first described by Jager in 2008, was named after the singer, because when viewed from the front the spider apparently resembles David Bowie’s stage makeup.

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